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China's auto market picks up in March with 9.4 percent growth

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BEIJING — China's auto sales accelerated in March with strong demands for SUVs, an industry group said Thursday.

Sales of passenger vehicles in world's largest auto market rose 9.4 percent to 1.87 million last month, from 6.4 percent in February, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

CAAM said the sales of passenger vehicles in the first quarter rose 9 percent to 5.3 million. It said the growth was largely driven by demands for SUVs, whose sales expanded 48.8 percent. Sales of sedan cars dropped by 0.4 percent.

Last year's total passenger vehicle sales rose 9.9 percent to 19.7 million vehicles, down 5.8 percentage points from 2013, according to CAAM.

China's domestic automakers gained market share in March by 4.3 percentage points after selling 819,200 units, CAAM said.

Foreign brands grew more slowly than the overall market in March.

China is the biggest market by number of units sold but smaller than the United States in financial terms because Chinese drivers buy smaller, less expensive vehicles.

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